Men querying paternity ‘is an unfair weapon’

Judge makes comment after man stopped paying maintenance and demanded DNA test be carried out

A judge has said that men questioning the paternity of babies and demanding DNA tests “is an unfair weapon to pull out” in child maintenance cases.

Judge Patrick Durcan made his comment at the Family Law Court in Ennis where a man has stopped paying maintenance for a baby boy after questioning if he is the father or not and demanding that a DNA test be carried out to determine paternity.

The man is now questioning paternity in spite of telling the mother in a text a number of months ago “I am going to support him forever’ in reference to the baby boy.

In response to him ceasing maintenance payments, the mother was seeking an interim order that the man pay €50 a week maintenance pending the outcome of the paternity test.

Solicitor for the mother, Pamela Clancy said her client wasn’t in a steady relationship with the man at the time but said her client has no concerns over the outcome of the paternity test.

“It is not fair that my client would be deprived of this maintenance payment because the man has brought this DNA request,” she said.

Ms Clancy submitted a booklet of text messages that the man sent to the mother. Judge Durcan said: “I could write a book on texts in the context of matrimonial disputes in the district court.”

He read out a couple of messages that the man sent to the woman. 

“I have on the first page ‘I am going to support him forever’ and another ‘In my own time, I want to see him’,” he said.

In evidence, the mother said that the man “has constantly admitted that he is the father. He signed the baby’s birth cert and went to the Garda station and signed his passport”. 

The man was not in court but was represented by solicitor, Anne Walsh, who was acting as agent for the man’s solicitor.

Judge Durcan said evidence in the case puts it very much on the side of the mother in her seeking the interim order of €50 a week.

“I am told that this man has accepted paternity — that he has paid maintenance up to a point some weeks ago,” the judge said. “I have to accept all of that as evidence of his accepting paternity.”

He said that in maintenance cases, men raising the issue of paternity and demanding DNA tests “is an unfair weapon to pull out”.

 

Ms Walsh said: “I’ve had a number of cases where putative fathers have accepted paternity, maintenance has been paid — even on an interim basis — and ‘the DNA weapon’ as you like to call it comes out and it emerges that the ‘father’ is not the father.”

 

Judge Durcan said one way to ensure that it is dealt with expeditiously is to make an interim maintenance order that the man pay a weekly sum.

After an adjournment, Ms Clancy told the court that an interim order of €50 per week could be made pending the outcome of the DNA test and the case could be adjourned to September 6. 

Ms Clancy said the situation would be reviewed on that date and she said her client would be then seeking €75 per week from September.



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